A friend of mine has a really keen sense of smell.
To such an extent that she is able to detect someone’s presence by the smell of a jacket they have worn. She can smell them. I know what she means. It’s not always so much about the natural body odour, but the regular smell you like to have when you’re around so like the perfume or whatever. My friend can take the faintest whiff and tell immediately which person has been there. It’s quite a talent.
I wonder, sometimes, if we have developed a sense of smelling opportunities that might come our way. Can we recognise the scent of something good about to happen?
It was an innocuous conversation. Another friend of mine (we’ll call him Tom) was helping a colleague at work (we’ll call him Brian) with an assignment. Tom is not just a very helpful kind of guy anyway, he’s also great at putting someone at ease when they could be stressed out or anxious about something. He does this chiefly through his sense of humour.
Bryan’s assignment was incredibly demanding and at one point Bryan’s sense of frustration at things spilled over into an extended rant. He was verging either on a long time of tears or a violent reaction to the laptop he was working on. Tom knew that a quip would not be the answer to this situation. So he launched into an even more elaborate rant that took in factors far beyond the assignment. His exaggerated tirade on why everything in life was going wrong, soon took the sting out of Bryan’s venting. To such a degree that he was able to reflect on things in a calmer state of mind seeing that there was no point in allowing the matter to let him reach any state of anxiety.
Tom smelled an opportunity and merely asked if Bryan expressed the anger because of something else going on. Bryan was caught by the nature of the question and turned away not wanting to show tears welling up in his eyes. Tom didn’t press the issue knowing that the time was right for a quip before returning to focusing on the assignment.
A few days later, Tom overheard a mutual friend say that Bryan had been shouting at someone for a slight infraction. It threatened to get ugly until someone shepherded Bryan away from the scene. Tom left it until lunch to approach Bryan who was eating alone with a sullen look on his face. Tom sidled up to Bryan and used his humour to break through Bryan’s defences. While Bryan was laughing at another of his jokes, Tom asked the same question he had asked at the assignment support, but this time with no jokes attached. He reached out to Bryan to support him. Bryan felt he could trust Tom and over time that trust was proven through patient support on a lot more than a work assignment.
This was all about someone smelling something familiar. An opportunity to reach out and help someone.
It’s one thing to be able to pick up the scent of someone familiar, it’s clearly another thing to smell the opportunity to help someone out.
I wonder if we’ve caught the scent.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden